Fall planting confusion

TairaKLJuly 6, 2011

I am a bit confused about fall planting dates (especially tomatoes). I was considering visiting the tomatoman's daughter here in a week or so, but now I think about it I'm not so sure.

OSU's guide says to put out tomato transplants between July 1 and July 15. However temps are too high for fruit set all the way through the end of August. That's a month and a half to two months for the plant to just sit in the heat with no possibility of setting fruit. Why put them out so early? I understand first frost average in this zone is October 16th. From Sept 1st (when we'd likely get fruit set again) to mid-October is only 45 days.

What am I missing here? Logistically, it makes no sense to plant fall tomatoes. Someone please explain to me how this works. Thank you kindly.


P.S. I've selected early DTM varieties and plants that (allegedly) produce in high heat.

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Lisa's web site says she is only open Thurs, Fri, and Saturday ONLY between the dates of July 14th and July 30th, 9-6.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 9:49PM
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I know hun. :) I said "a week or so." July 14th is 8 days from now. Hence, "a week or so." As in i plan on going in 8 or 9 days. Could have said two weeks but about a week seemed closer. Forgive me if that confused you!


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:00PM
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I'm planting my fall tomatoes next week if the creek don't rise. Just because Dawn said mid-July. ;) (But also because I'll be spending the week after that in the dorm at NOC teaching drawing/painting for a week, then moving 10 years of art supplies into a new classroom until school starts & I only have so much attention span)

I figure the plants need some time to get big enough to support all that fabulous fruit they are going to produce once things cool off, right? I have eight or so ready to go that I started from suckers/branches I (or the wind) snapped off on purpose or by accident. So no big financial loss if they don't make it.

Walls Bargain Center in stilly had seed for 5 cents a pack today, USA origin, so I got a handful of lettuce & radishes & beets, but I might wait a little before I plant those. I have pak choy, etc. I want to plant for fall also, but again it just seems impossible to keep those direct sown seeds moist for more than five minutes or so.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:16PM
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Man, I need to head out to Stilly and get some of these seeds. Did they have a bunch left?


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:07AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


The reason we plant in July is so the plants are large enough to flower and bear fruit when cooler temps return in late August or in September, depending on when it cools off wherever you happen to live.

The most honest thing I can say about fall tomatoes is they are a crap-shoot. Some years you get great harvests. Some years you get modest harvests. Some years you get none. So why do we plant them? Because in the year when we get a good harvest, they are so very, very, very good.

In the fall, we're always trying to get that harvest in before the first hard frost or killing freeze. However, what I have found is that if I can cover up the plants really, really well when that first cold spell hits (and usually it is only cold for a night or maybe two), then I'll have another 4-8 weeks of above-freezing weather and during that time the tomatoes will produce really well.

So, if you're a gambling type, it certainly is worth the gamble. If your space is limited and you don't want to devote space to an iffy crop, then it might be better to plant something else.

I usually plant a few fall tomatoes in large containers so I can drag them into the garage at night when the first frost threatens. Last year (or, earlier this year) I was able to harvest container-grown tomatoes and peppers into December or January. You can just imagine how wonderful it is to harvest a tomato from a plant at that time of year. It is such a treat even though, because of lower temps and less intense heat and sunlight, the winter tomatoes aren't as yummy as summer tomatoes. (They're still better than store tomatoes!)


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:17AM
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Thank you Dawn! That makes perfect sense. Okay, so it's not a sure thing, but some steps can be taken to increase my chances. I think I'll take those odds; fall is my favorite season, and gardening in the fall sounds interesting.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:12AM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

I dropped the ball on starting fall tomatoes. I was too overwhelmed with constant watering and weeding. However, I refuse to pay $3-$4 per tomato plant when A. I could have started my own for pennies and B. Each of my tomato plants usually only produces a few fruits. I personally can't get enough bang for the buck to justify buying plants.

I did throw some tomato seeds in the ground the other day...but at about 3 months from seed to harvest, I won't be picking until early October, and that's provided we have no early killing frosts.

Still, if I get a few tomatoes at almost no cost, I'll be happy.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:42AM
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Yes Bon, there were lots of seeds at Walls.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 1:21PM
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I don't mind too much paying three or four bucks per plant, especially if I know it's going to a good, local source. I start from seed in the spring, but with all that hail and craziness in May and June, I just didn't get it done. C'est la vie.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:16PM
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Just for the record.......I only mentioned Lisa's open days because they were different from the days you quoted that were recommended in the OSU Fall Gardening Guide.

I read in your first message that you were confused, and your second message seemed to verify that. I don't feel at all confused and I'm almost sure you will have a complete recovery.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:44PM
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